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News digest – making radiotherapy kinder, artificial intelligence, arthritis and… ‘bum gums’?

by Justine Alford | Analysis

5 August 2017

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  • Some breast cancer patients could be spared the side effects of treatment after our study found targeted radiotherapy was just as good at preventing the disease from returning as giving radiotherapy to the whole breast. Reported by The Telegraph and others, the findings from our trial could help improve the quality of life of many women – our press release has the details.
  • The first detailed look into the genetic and molecular characteristics of cancers that have spread could boost research efforts into making treatment more personal. We reported on this new US study.
  • Taking out cancers’ sidekick – healthy cells that have been coerced by the tumour – could be a way to fight many types of the disease in the future, our new study suggests. The early research points towards new ways to target tumours – check out our press release for more info.
  • Using computers to analyse immune cells in tumours could help identify some breast cancer patients who have a high risk of their disease coming back, according to a new study we helped fund. The test still needs putting through its paces in trials, but it could one day help guide treatment decisions and pinpoint those patients who might respond to certain drugs, reports the Independent.

Number of the week


The pounds that the NHS could save per pancreatic cancer patient if their surgery is fast-tracked

  • Time to get a new lab partner? According to the BBC, tech companies have claimed that pairing scientists with artificial intelligence could help drug development and cut costs at the same time. Various pharma companies have now struck deals with AI firms to pursue the idea.
  • Teaching an old drug new tricks: A UK team of scientists has found that an arthritis treatment could help some blood cancer patients. It’s too early to be calling it a breakthrough, but the researchers hope to start testing their idea in people next year.
  • An early trial in Birmingham has found that getting pancreatic cancer patients into the operating theatre sooner – reducing waiting times from 2 months to 2 weeks – boosts the success rate of surgery and cuts NHS costs. Contrary to the Express headline, as the BBC points out, it’s not clear if fast-tracking surgery can help save lives, but for a cancer that’s hard to treat, it’s an encouraging start.
  • Tobacco companies may have been playing dirty, according to the Guardian. The report claims new research suggests some companies have been manipulating their prices to make the habit harder to kick. Check out our website for info on the best ways to stop smoking.

And finally

  • Widely reported news that ‘bum gums’ – a history of gum disease – could increase the risk of several types of cancer in postmenopausal women may have caused alarm this week. But while good oral health is important, the US study had us less than convinced – not least because one of the authors receives funding from Colgate… For reliable ways to reduce your cancer risk visit our website.